What Are Early Potatoes? (3 Key Things To Know)


When planting potatoes, you might hear the terms early, mid-season, and late potatoes. It’s helpful to understand what these mean so that you can choose the best varieties for your garden.

So, what are early potatoes?  Early potatoes are varieties that mature faster than others, usually in summer. Some early potatoes only take 60 to 80 days to mature. Early potatoes are also called early season potatoes, and they include varieties like Adirondack Blue, Algonquin, Belmonda, Dark Red Norland, Red Gold, and Yukon Gold.

Of course, there are lots of early potato varieties to choose from, and you don’t have to grow only early varieties. You can also plant some mid-season and late season potato varieties to space out your harvest over a longer window.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

In this article, we’ll talk about early potatoes (early season potatoes) and answer some common questions about them. We’ll also give a list of early potatoes to get you started.

Let’s begin.

What Are Early Potatoes?

Early potatoes are fast-maturing varieties that produce tubers sooner than other types (such as mid-season or late season potatoes, which are often called “main crop potatoes”). Usually, early potatoes take 60 to 80 days (8.5 to 11.5 weeks) to produce mature tubers.

cut potato with eyes
Early potatoes are grown from seed potatoes, just like other potato varieties, but the plants produce mature tubers much earlier in the season.

Early potatoes are also called early season potatoes, since they mature earlier in the growing season. They are better for immediate use, rather than long-term storage over winter.

If you want storage potatoes, go for late-season potato varieties. When you pair early season with mid-season and late season potatoes, you can extend your harvest window by several weeks.

For example, you could harvest:

  • Early season potatoes at 8.5 to 11.5 weeks after planting
  • Mid-season potatoes at 11.5 to 13 weeks after planting
  • Late season potatoes past 13 weeks after planting

You could also stagger planting times to spread out your harvest over 6 weeks or longer, depending on where you live (this assumes you have growing season that is long enough!)

potatoes in basket
Combine early, mid, and late season potato varieties to extend your harvest to several weeks.

You can see some selected early, mid, and late season potatoes here.

Which Potatoes Are Early Potatoes?

Early season potatoes mature in 60 to 80 days (8.5 to 11 weeks). Some classifications include early potatoes that take up to 90 days to mature.

Here are some early season potatoes to consider growing:

  • Adirondack Blue – this early/mid-season potato has an oblong shape.  It also has purple skin and flesh, and it keeps this color after cooking.  It is good for new potatoes, but does not store as long as other types of potatoes.
  • Algonquin – this early season potato was released by Cornell inn 2017. Its tubers are large, smooth, and oval-shaped. It has tan to brown skin and white flesh. It produces high yields and resists scab.
  • Belmonda – this early/mid-season potato has a rounded oval shape.  It also has yellow skin and flesh, and it produces high yields.  Belmonda is a great choice if you want to grow new potatoes, and the tubers store well after harvest.
  • Dark Red Norland – this early season potato has a rounded oblong shape.  It also has red skin and white flesh, and it is good for roasting and boiling.  It is a great choice if you want to grow new potatoes, and the tubers store fairly well after harvest.
  • Irish Cobbler – this early season potato is an heirloom variety that is a good choice for making mashed potatoes. The tubers are large with tan skin.
  • Purple Majesty – this early season potato has lots of antioxidants, and it boasts purple skin and flesh that is great for showing off your harvest.
  • Red Gold – this early season potato has a round shape.  It also has light red skin and yellow flesh, and it gives high yields.  It is an excellent choice if you want to grow new potatoes, but the tubers don’t store as well as other potato varieties.
  • Red LaSoda – this early/mid-season potato is a good choice for gardens in the southern U.S. The tubers store well, and they are good for boiling, baking, or frying, making them versatile in the kitchen. They have rosy pink skin and waxy white flesh.
  • Viking – this early/mid-season potato has pinkish-red skin and white flesh. The plants are compact (making them perfect for container growing), and each produces about 2 pounds of potato tubers at harvest.
  • Yukon Gold – this early/mid-season potato has a round or oval shape.  It also has yellow-tan skin and yellow flesh, and it is available as organic or conventional.  It is a good choice if you want to grow new potatoes, and the tubers store very well after harvest.
Yukon Gold potatoes are an early/mid season variety with tan skin and yellow flesh. The tubers store well after harvest.

Do Early Potatoes Flower?

Early potato plants can flower just like any other potato plants. However, potato plants might not always flower, so this isn’t a reliable sign that tubers are ready.

purple potato flower
Early potato plants can produce flowers (and possibly fruit), just like any other potato varieties.

Your best bet is to dig for tubers every so often at around the expected time of maturity. For example, if you planted potatoes on May 1, and the time to maturity is 80 days, then you would expect mature tubers around July 19 (31 days in May + 30 days in June + 19 days in July = 80 days).

Do Early Potatoes Get Blight?

Early potatoes can get blight. Even though they mature sooner than other varieties, early potatoes are still potatoes.

They are susceptible to the same diseases as other potatoes. If you are worried about blight, you should consider blight-resistant varieties, whether you are growing early, mid, or late season potatoes.

potato late blight
Early potatoes can still get blight (early or late), just like any other potatoes.

Remember that there are two types of blight: early blight and late blight of potato. Late blight tends to be the more devastating disease (and it caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840’s).

However, both diseases thrive in wet conditions, so avoid getting the leaves of your plants wet (water from below with drip irrigation, rather than overhead sprinklers, if you can help it).

Here are some early potatoes with resistance to early or late blight:

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

When To Harvest Early Potatoes

You can harvest early potatoes whenever the tubers are ready. However, “ready” will depend on your definition:

  • If you want “new” potatoes (small, less mature tubers with thin skins), you can harvest earlier than normal. New potatoes are small enough that you can cook them whole without cutting or slicing, and their skins are thin enough that you don’t really need to peel them.
  • If you want mature potatoes, you will have to wait until maturity to harvest your early potatoes. This will still be earlier than mid or late season potatoes, but as noted above, it will take 60 to 80 days (or perhaps a little longer), depending on the variety.
new potatoes
New potatoes are small, immature tubers with thinner skins. They are harvested early, and meant to be cooked and eaten right away.

Here are some good indications of when you can harvest your early potatoes:

  • New potatoes: 2 to 3 weeks after plant stops flowering. This is not foolproof, since your plants might not always flower.
  • New potatoes: digging. Check underneath the plant by digging gently with your hands – if you find small tubers, you can harvest them all, or take some and leave the rest to keep growing.
  • Mature potatoes: wait until the tops of your potato plants turn yellow and fall over. Usually, tubers are ready for harvest at this point (assuming the plant is healthy). You can also dig to check how the tubers are doing.
potatoes soil
Check underneath your potato plants by digging gently with your hands. If you find one mature tuber, chances are that you will find more!

How To Harvest Early Potatoes              

Harvesting early potatoes is the same as harvesting tubers from any other type of potato plant. There are several ways you can do it:

Pull Up The Plant

One unique way to harvest potato tubers is to pull up the entire plant at once. Ideally, the potato tubers should still be attached, so this makes it easy to harvest.

One potential problem is that the stem may break, or the tubers may break off and stay in the soil. In that case, you still have the option to dig them up.

Dig By Hand

You can also just use your bare hands to dig up potatoes. This is a slower method to harvest tubers. However, it is also one of the safest ways, since there is very little chance of damaging your potatoes.

Still, it is uncomfortable to dig with your bare hands in cold soil. So, find a sturdy pair of gloves to protect your hands.

Use Small Tools

You can also try using a trowel or claw to make it a little easier and faster to dig. There is a chance that you will cut or poke a tuber with this method.

garden trowel
A small hand tool (trowel or claw) makes it easier to dig for potatoes, but there is a chance you will damage some tubers.

If you are careful, you shouldn’t damage too many of the potatoes. Set aside any damaged tubers and eat them first; put the undamaged ones into storage.

Use Large Tools

A shovel is probably the fastest method to dig up potatoes. However, it is also the most likely to damage potatoes by slicing into them.

A misplaced shovel can cut a potato in half, so just keep that in mind as you dig.

shovel
A shovel lets you dig potatoes much faster, but you might also cut tubers while digging.

A pitchfork is another great way to dig up potatoes quickly. Still, there is also the danger that you will puncture a tuber while digging.

Soil Sifter

Instead of digging and feeling in the soil for potatoes, you can use a soil sifter to speed things up. All you need to do is use a shovel or pitchfork to toss the soil into the sifter.

wire mesh
You can make a soil sifter with fine wire mesh and then use it to get potatoes out of the soil.

Then, move the sifter back and forth to let the soil fall through. The potatoes will be left behind (along with some rocks!) for you to grab.

This method is great when you grow potatoes in a small container. You can just dump the bucket over the soil sifter and let it do most of the work of separating soil from potatoes!

Can You Leave Early Potatoes In The Ground?

Generally, you should not leave early potatoes in the ground for too long after they mature. If you plan to store potatoes, the University of Maryland suggests leaving them in the ground for 2 weeks after they mature (this helps to “cure” them for storage).

Early potatoes mature in summer, and they are often grown for immediate harvest and use. Harvesting them promptly and keeping them in a cool, dark, dry place will increase their shelf life.

potatoes clean for storage
It is a good idea to clean off potatoes by brushing gently before storage. Washing them might make them susceptible to rot unless you dry them well.

Also, the longer you leave potatoes in the ground, the more likely that pests (insect or animal) will get to them. So, harvest your early potatoes and take them out of harm’s way!

If you harvest new potatoes, try to eat them soon after harvest, when they will taste best.

Can You Store Early Potatoes?

You can store early potatoes. However, early potatoes are best used for eating during summer, while main crop potatoes are best for long-term storage.

No matter what potatoes you want to store, here are some principles to follow:

  • Stop watering potatoes before harvest to toughen them up for storage.
  • Let the potato vines die all the way back before harvesting tubers.
  • Do not leave harvested potatoes in direct sunlight, or they will turn green (due to chlorophyll) and toxic (due to solanine).
  • Clean (but do not wash) your potatoes before storage. Use a soft bristle brush to dust off the dirt.
  • Cure potatoes for 7 to 10 days in a dark, humid area with good ventilation. This makes them last longer.
  • Store potatoes long-term at 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in a dark place. Higher humidity will prevent shriveling.
  • Thick skinned potatoes store better than thin skinned ones. Yellow and white potatoes last longer than red ones. Late potatoes store better than early potatoes.
Potatoes 6
Thick skinned potatoes will last longer in storage than thin skinned ones.

All told, you can keep potatoes in good condition for 7 to 8 months with proper storage.

If you finish harvesting in fall (let’s say September) and have potatoes stored that last 8 months until May, you can have early potatoes again shortly thereafter (perhaps in June or July), giving you potatoes for most months of the year.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

Conclusion

Now you know what early season potatoes are, and you have some examples with information about the varieties. You also know the answers to some common questions about early potatoes.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

You can learn more about various types of potatoes (for small tubers, disease resistance, etc.) here.

You can learn about heirloom potatoes, what they are, and some interesting varieties here.

You can get an idea of how many potatoes to expect per plant here.

To find gardening books, courses, and more, check out The Shop at Greenupside!

Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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